Air Canada flight attendants serve strike notice

The Air Canada labour dispute goes on, despite threats from the Harper administration that workers would be legislated back to work if they decided to go on a strike. Now, flight attendants could be going on strike as early as Thursday. 

The Canadian Press has the story:

Air Canada is facing more labour turbulence as the airline's flight attendants rejected a second tentative deal and served strike notice on Sunday.

The 6,800 flight attendants will be able to walk off the job as early as 12:01 a.m. Oct. 13, said a news release from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents the workers.

The union said 65 per cent of those who voted rejected the deal, but didn't say how many took part in the vote.

It's the second time the flight attendants turned down a tentative agreement. They turned down an offer in August, triggering a new round of contract talks last month.

Jeff Taylor, the president of CUPE's Air Canada division, said in a news release that the second rejection shows how frustrated flight attendants are with the airline after years of giving concessions.

Air Canada issued a statement indicating it hoped to avoid a work stoppage, but said it would maintain a partial schedule in the event of a strike.

``We are perplexed and disappointed that two tentative agreements negotiated in good faith and unanimously recommended by the democratically elected representatives of our flight attendants have failed to be ratified,'' said Duncan Dee, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Neither side said they would comment beyond what was in their statements, which didn't mention if negotiations would resume.

A strike would not likely last long as the federal government was expected to intervene with back-to-work legislation. A strike by the airline's customer service agents ended in June after three days and produced a tentative contract when Labour Minister Lisa Raitt indicated she would intervene.

In the CUPE statement, Taylor expressed hope that Raitt would not use the same tactics.

``We ask the federal government, in the strongest possible terms, to respect our right to collective bargaining and not intervene unilaterally in this dispute'', said Taylor.

Ashley Kelahear, a spokeswoman for Raitt, said the government is disappointed by the vote result.

``The government will be considering its options however we will be clear that a work stoppage is unacceptable in this time of fragile economy,'' she said in an email Sunday.

Air Canada said it would allow customers booked for travel over the next six days to change dates free of charge.

Union leaders had predicted the revamped offer would be approved. They said they had managed to get about 80 per cent of what the membership had demanded in the areas of wages, pensions, crew rest, working conditions and work rules.

More in News

Views from a refugee camp: Who gets into heaven?

I have just returned to Vancouver Island from Greek refugee camps where I met a Yazidi man named Jason who told me about his escape from ISIS in Iraq.   His story begins on a desert road where a...

Vancouver's bicycle sharing grows as 15 new stations installed

Mobi bicycle by Shaw Go in Vancouver. Photo by Christopher Porter from Flickr Creative Commons

International Women's Day Concert celebrates female musicians who turned tragedy into triumph

Every March 8, on International Women's Day, we hear about the achievements of brilliant, talented women around the world. But how often do we learn about the physical and mental disabilities or...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.